Should I Use The Alpha Roll on My Puppy or Dog?

By Karen A. Soukiasian

There are a number of ways alpha uses to get his or her message across without an out-and-out fight. They include the Alpha Roll, circling and sniffing, standing over, urinating on, pawing, eye contact with a cold-eye stare and growling/snarling with teeth bared at the insubordinate.

Some dog trainers have the philosophy that the best way to put a puppy or dog in their place, is to do an Alpha Roll. The aim is to roll the insubordinate to the ground, into a submissive position on their back or side and while leaning on them, apply pressure to the animal's throat with their fingers. The fingers to the throat emulate the alpha's teeth.

If you don't know what you are doing, this technique can be dangerous! There are dogs that perceive this move as a death roll threat and will fight back as if their life depends on it.

For a pack of wolves or dogs to survive, everyone has to know their place in the pack. The alpha male and/or female are at the top. Betta members are next. They can "boss" each other and the omega around, but they don't challenge the alpha. Finally, there is the omega. They are the least respected member of the pack. Omega is at the bottom, exactly where your dog should identify his or her self in their new pack.

For a well-adjusted puppy or dog to peacefully coexist with a family, they must know their place. Their place is at the bottom... always and forever! That is one of the reasons why it is so essential for a puppy to stay with their mother and litter mates until they are at least 8 weeks old. It is during that time, puppies learn doggie etiquette. Mom and the siblings are a puppy's first pack. Mom is the alpha member and the siblings work out the rest of the order among themselves.

When a puppy joins your family, they should make the transition smoothly. It is usually the owner's fault that they climb us the social ladder. We allow them to get away with behaviors their mom and siblings would not tolerate. They will test you frequently, to see what they can get away with, as a means to move up in status.

Since we don't urinate on our pets, circle and sniff them, or growl while bearing our teeth to display our dominance, why should we roll on them? There are better ways than an Alpha Roll, which places your face dangerously close to the animal's teeth, to establish and maintain alpha status.

First and foremost, dogs learn by association. Enroll in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free Puppy Kindergarten or obedience class. Fact is, you need the training as much as your puppy or dog. There you will learn safe and more effective ways to establish and maintain your status, while you train your dog. It sure beats throwing them to the ground and rolling on them. The positive reinforcement obedience training is the safest and most successful way to instill trust and respect.

Feed your dog AFTER you eat. Omega always eats last. This is one of the most effective ways to teach your puppy or dog where they fit in the pack.

Your dog must work for everything they get. It's called "no free lunch." Give a command they have to immediately respond to before placing their food down, or putting on their leash. If your dog doesn't respond to your command at once, put the food on the counter or hang the leash back up. Walk away, wait a minute or two and then repeat the exercise. They will eventually associate the faster they respond, the faster they will get what they are waiting for.

Always make your dog wait for you and the family to enter or exit a door before them. In a dog's head, whoever is out front is the leader.

Make your dog sit and wait, until you give a "load up" or release command when getting in and out of the car.

Walk your dog! Walking your dog not only creates a bond, it reinforces your status. Keeping them in a "heel" position, or even a little behind you, teaches them they are not the "lead dog."

Bottom line: You do not have to throw your puppy or dog down and roll on them to teach them you are the "top dog." Use your head, not your brawn. Teach your dog they will get what they want, only after you get what you want from them. Positive reinforcement, punishment-free training is more effective than strong-arming and intimidating your pet.

Karen A. Soukiasian
Article by Karen A. Soukiasian
Karen A. Soukiasian, GOOD DOG! - DOG TRAINING and BED-n-BISCUITS dog boarding and training - Owner/Trainer, St. Augustine, Florida - AKC CANINE GOOD CITIZEN and S.T.A.R. PUPPY Evaluator. Visit my website at: and